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Apple's head of iPhone and Apple Watch design leaving company: Report

Apple’s (AAPL) head of iPhone and Apple Watch design is leaving the company. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Tang Tan, who has worked on devices including the iPhone, Watch, and Apple’s AirPods, will exit Apple in February.

Tan reports up to Apple’s SVP of hardware design John Ternus, who answers to CEO Tim Cook. Tan’s departure also means Apple is moving around personnel within its design teams to fill in gaps, according to Gurman.

Shares of Apple were relatively flat following the news, with the company’s overall market capitalization remaining steady above the $3 trillion mark.

Apple’s design team has undergone a series of shifts in recent years following former design chief Jony Ive’s departure in 2019. Ive continued to work with Apple via his design firm LoveFrom until 2022, according to the New York Times.

The iPhone 15 Pro is presented during the 'Wonderlust' event at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2023. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
The iPhone 15 Pro is presented during the "Wonderlust" event at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Sept. 12, 2023. (Loren Elliott/REUTERS) (Loren Elliott / reuters)

Design is of chief importance to Apple, which markets its products as not only high-end pieces of technology, but statement pieces as well.

The iPhone is Apple’s single most important product, generating $200.6 billion of the company’s $383.3 billion in revenue in fiscal 2023. But iPhone sales were off throughout the year, as consumers pulled back on spending on pricier devices amidst rising inflation and higher interest rates. Overall, the iPhone business generated $5 billion less in 2023 than it did in 2022.

The Apple Watch is the world’s most popular smartwatch and a major means of keeping Apple users dependent on the company’s ecosystem of products. Apple doesn’t break out specific numbers for the Watch business, instead folding it into its wearables, home, and accessories segment.

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That business also slowed in 2023, bringing in $39.8 billion in revenue throughout the company’s fiscal year versus $41.2 billion in 2022.

But there’s hope for a turnaround in 2024. According to Counterpoint Research, in October, global smartphone sell-through grew year over year for the first time in more than two years.

“Following this strong growth in October, we expect the market to grow [year over year] in Q4 2023 as well, setting out on a path to gradual recovery in the coming quarters,” the research firm said in a statement.

Daniel Howley is the tech editor at Yahoo Finance. He's been covering the tech industry since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @DanielHowley.

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